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Arctic and offshore patrol vessel HMCS Max Bernays arrives in CFB Esquimalt

HMCS Max Bernays arrives at CFB Esquimalt in Esquimalt, B.C., on April 15, 2024. HMCS Max Bernays arrives at CFB Esquimalt in Esquimalt, B.C., on April 15, 2024.
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Joy and Josephine Brandle have been waiting three-and-a-half months for this moment.

“We’re waiting for my dad because I miss him very much,” said Josephine Brandle, whose father is in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Her father is a leading sailor onboard Canada’s newest vessel, HMCS Max Bernays. On Monday it made its way into its new home at CFB Esquimalt after a long journey from Halifax that began on March 11.

“He doesn’t know we’re here,” said Joy Brandle, Josephine’s mother. “He thought I was working and she was in school.”

HMCS Max Bernays is one of two arctic and offshore patrol vessels that will be stationed in Esquimalt.

“This is a patrol vessel but it’s an armed patrol vessel and this gives us a sixth hull that we can go out and do various operations,” said Commodore David Mazur, commander of Canadian Fleet Pacific.

The ship’s main function will be to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic’s Northwest Passage and along Canada’s West Coast. The vessel will also support international operations.

“It was about two to three years to build and the Navy took delivery of the vessel on Sept. 2, 2022,” said Commander Collin Forsberg, commanding officer of HMCS Max Bernays.

Built in Halifax, the vessel is a DeWolf-class ship. It’s103 metres long with a top speed of 17 knots, or 31 km/h.

The vessel has a range of 6,800 nautical miles and comes with ice-breaking plating.

“They were designed to break about one metre of ice at about three knots,” said Mazur.

The plan is to send the Bernays into Canada’s Northwest Passage this summer but first it will be deployed south to Hawaii for Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) – the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise – in June.

“These are like a utility pickup truck,” said Mazur. “They come with certain inherent capabilities but their real capability is that you can put almost anything you want on these vessels and modify them for what you need.”

The ship could see future uses for international humanitarian aid or disaster relief.

“You’re just going to see more and more capability added to this ship over time,” said Mazur.

The ship gets its name from Canadian Chief Petty Officer Max Bernays, who was awarded the Medal of Gallantry during the Second World War.

In 2026, the second DeWolf-class ship is expected to arrive on the West Coast, and will also call CFB Esquimalt home. That ship will be called the Robert Hampton Gray. He was the recipient of a Victoria Cross for his heroic efforts during that same war.

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